11 Brilliant Gifts for the Teacher in Your Life

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iStock

Few people play such an important role in young lives (and parents’ lives) as teachers. Whether they lead kindergarten or university classes, educators work tirelessly to serve their pupils—and don’t always get rewarded as well as they should. Give back this holiday season with gifts that are (mostly) classroom ready.

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1. A Thank You Note; Free

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Sometimes the best things in life don’t cost anything at all. Let your favorite teacher know how much they’re appreciated with a hand-written note. Chances are, they don’t hear it enough.

2. The Art of Caramel

This sweet and salty gift box includes four different flavors of caramel corn, like Kentucky Bourbon Black Pepper and Honey Graham. Each flavor is designed to accompany the bottle of wine included—a 2016 Dime Red Blend from Sonoma, California. Give it to one teacher who really needs a break, or split up the flavors and hand them out to several teachers.

Find It at Winc for $50.

3. Library Card Tote Bag

This cotton tote bag lets the wearer proclaim their love of reading and nostalgia for analog catalog systems. It has a useful little pocket inside to keep keys or a cell phone accessible and it's perfect for carrying home heavy textbooks or lesson-plan binders.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $20.

4. Personalized Moleskine Notebooks

Taking down notes and making to-do lists can be a personal activity, and these notebooks reflect that. For an extra $5, they can be personalized with any text (up to 12 characters), giving you the opportunity to emboss them with a brief thank you note or the recipient’s name.

Find It at Moleskine for $20 and up.

5. Hot Chocolate Sticks

Three hot chocolate sticks
Amazon

Available in dark, milk, and white chocolate flavors, these hot chocolate sticks are a great no-fuss treat for busy teachers. All they have to do is swirl one around in hot milk for one or two minutes to make delicious hot chocolate. The six-pack gift box has two of each flavor and comes wrapped in a brown bow.

Find It at Amazon for $14 and at these other retailers:

6. Percy The Pencil Porcupine

This porcupine-shaped pencil holder is both utilitarian and whimsical, letting your favorite educator show some desktop flair. It’s made from glazed clay and stands about 4 inches tall, with room to hold more than a dozen pencils.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $19 and at these other retailers:

7. Classroom Supply Pack

Some teachers need classroom supplies more than they need trinkets and holiday sweets. Amazon’s classroom supply pack bundles together basics like pencils, art paper, notebooks, facial tissue, hand sanitizer, and glue sticks. Even if your favorite educator doesn’t need a new pair of scissors for their classroom, one of their deserving students might.

Find It at Amazon for $40.

8. Great Quotes from Great Leaders Boxed Calendar

Great Quotes for Great Leaders Calendar
Amazon

Bring some inspiration to the classroom by gifting your teacher this 2019 calendar. Each day of the year features a different quote from one of the world’s foremost leaders and thinkers, from Mahatma Gandhi to Thomas Jefferson to Queen Victoria. They’ll hopefully learn something new, and their students will, too.

Find It at Amazon for $7.

9. 2019 Wildwood Planner

Front cover of the planner
Rifle Paper Co

A brand new planner is a great way to get a fresh start. Help your teacher gear up for 2019 with this beautifully crafted planner, which features a floral pattern on the cover and gold-colored accents throughout. It’s filled with inspirational quotes, a pocket in the back, and perhaps most excitingly, three sheets of stickers.

Find It at Rifle Paper and Co. for $34 and at these other retailers:

10. Fund A Classroom Project

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If you really want to help out a classroom, give some cash to a local project on DonorsChoose.org, a site that allows schools and educators to crowdfund classroom projects. Help purchase computers or printers for the classroom, sound systems for dance classes, standard classroom materials, and more.

Find It at DonorsChoose.org.

11. Amazon Gift Card

If you don’t know exactly what kind of supplies a classroom needs, leave it up to the teacher in question by giving an Amazon gift card. Whether they’re looking to fund an art project or just buy basic supplies for kids, they’ll be able to put the money to good use.

Find It at Amazon.

11 Brilliant Gifts for the Coffee (or Tea) Enthusiast in Your Life

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iStock

Most of us can appreciate a decent cup of joe. Then, there are those who obsess over bean sourcing, brew temperatures, and whether their paper filter is unbleached. For these friends and relatives, a gift card to the local franchise drive-thru probably won’t do. Check out 11 thoughtful gifts for the coffee and tea lovers in your life.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. Kombucha Jar And Brew Kit

For the uninitiated, Kombucha is a tea fermented with (good) bacteria that’s believed to be a rich source of probiotics and antioxidants. This brew kit allows enthusiasts to mix up their own exclusive 5-liter batch. It’s also dishwasher-safe and comes with a recipe booklet.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $65.

2. Fellow Stagg Pour Over Kettle

Pour-over coffee aficionados have taken the time to learn the correct brewing methods using a filter and hot water kettle. Fellow makes the process a little more precise with this stainless steel kettle, which has a built-in thermometer (for monitoring ideal water temperature) and an easily-aimed gooseneck spout for spot-on pouring.

Find It Amazon for $79 and also at these other retailers:

3. MistoBox Subscription

MistoBox

Can’t find a quality coffee roaster near you? MistoBox lets users select flavor preferences and then matches them with a high-quality grind that’s shipped directly to their door every month. An extra $15 upgrades the first shipment to a holiday gift box, including a mug, two coffee sample grinds, and a festive package.

Find It at MistoBox for $20 per month.

4. Hay Clip Clip Spoon

Measuring spoons for coffee can be easily misplaced; bags of grounds can fail to seal properly, hastening a loss of flavor. Why not solve two problems with this brass-colored steel spoon that has a spring clip for a handle?

Find It at MoMA for $10.

5. Merlot Infused Coffee

Cover all your bases by gifting your coffee-slash-wine enthusiast this merlot-infused coffee. The Arabica coffee beans have been aged in oak Merlot wine barrels to absorb the taste and scent of the famous wine. It’s alcohol-free, so they’ll remember to thank you.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $20.

6. OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Cold brewing is the hot trend in coffee at the moment, offering lower-acidity results than conventional methods. This OXO brewer makes the process simple and still allows the user to serve up their brew warm or chilled. If you prefer the latter, the device's silicone seal will keep it fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Find It at Amazon for $48 and also at these other retailers:

7. Blooming Tea; $21

Find yourself a clear teapot—not included—and watch as a selection of bud packets “bloom” in hot water while brewing to create drinkable works of art. Jasmine, peach, and chrysanthemum green teas are hand-sewn to the buds to create the effect.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $21.

8. ESPRO French Press P5

Espro promises that the P5 will make some of the smoothest, lowest-grit coffee or loose-leaf tea you’ve ever tasted. The Specialty Coffee Association of America agreed, awarding it the Best New Piece of Consumer Equipment Award for 2016; the thick glass wall ensures better heat retention.

Find It at Amazon for $50.

9. Pure Tea Starter Kit

Single estate teas are presented exclusively from a single supplier, making for better consistency. Silver Needle offers an introductory single estate sampler, along with a glass teapot for premium steeping.

Find It at Silver Needle Co. for $50.

10. Coolgear Bru Cold Brew Coffee System

Not everyone wants or needs to brew up a vat of iced coffee. That’s where Coolgear comes in: Their Bru is a single-serve drip coffee maker that brews cold directly into a portable 14-ounce container. It's the freshest coffee you can get while stuck in traffic.

Find It at Amazon for $23 and also at these other retailers:

11. Toast Living Carafe

For coffee lovers who want to keep it basic, Toast Living’s carafe is wonderfully understated. Just add ground coffee to the filter basket and pour over hot water for a minimalist experience.

Find It at Amazon for $50.

11 Thoughtful Gifts For Curious Kids

Indulge inquisitive minds this year by giving the kids in your life gifts that will reward their curiosity well beyond playtime. These 11 options will keep them entertained, stimulated, and might even help them answer a few of their "why" questions on their own.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. The Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure Science Experiment Kit

This narrative STEM set lets kids build Pepper Mint's treehouse in the rainforest of Borneo so that she can help on a research expedition. Made for ages 8 and up, the various experiments that kids need to learn to help Pepper make the most of her trip. The projects include making a rotating rain shield, wiring LED lanterns for nighttime, and learning how gears and pulleys can help shift heavy things around the treehouse with minimal effort. And if land-based adventures aren't quite their thing, another Pepper Mint set about an underwater voyage will take them out on the open seas.

Find It at Amazon for $40 and also at these other retailers:

2. TinkerToy Super Building Set

When your preschool-aged cousin has outgrown basic blocks, the next step is building anything with wheels. This giant set of 200 rods, spools, washers, and connectors lets kids engineer cars, buses, bikes … or swords with which to stab you in appreciation. But, even then, imaginative STEM play! The pieces are durable, flexible, and made in a zero-waste green facility in Pennsylvania, so you'll feel less bad when you step on a missing spoke.

Find It at Amazon for $50 and also at these other retailers:

3. Worldwide Buddies Mexico Story Box

This culture-in-a-box set will teach kids all about the customs and traditions that make various countries unique and special. The first Worldwide Buddies kit is full of Mexican treats—it includes a book, bilingual playing cards, a stuffed axolotl toy (the critically endangered underwater Mexican salamander), and various other games and activities that will keep los niños engaged and occupied for weeks. And in January, the Chinese culture package will be debuting, just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Find It at Worldwide Buddies for $39.

4. Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit

When we first learned about this coding wand, we couldn't wait to get it for the little Hermiones and Harrys we know. Kids ages 6 and up can create their own Wizarding World with a few flicks of the wrist while reciting a spell (err, programming the code). It's compatible with Mac, PC, Android, and iOS, so no matter which house they get sorted into, their spells should work flawlessly once they've completed their lessons.

Find It at Amazon for $80 and also at these other retailers:

5. Kidvelope

For adults who want to spend more time bonding with distant kid relatives (and not have to resort to Fortnite or some other video game), try some classic snail mail and silly selfies. Kidvelope is a new activity kit that emphasizes intergenerational communication through mission-based play. Kids and adults will work together, sending messages back and forth through the Kidvelope site and the good ol' USPS to solve puzzles, create secret messages, break codes, and, in this first kit iteration, attempt a rescue mission in outer space. As an older generation might say: Far out!

Find It at Kidvelope for $22.

6. LittleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit

They want to be a superhero? Let them build their own gear! Kids 8 and up can design, code, and customize smart-gloves with their own sounds and powers. Voice command? Check! Matrix light design? Obviously. Save the world? One kid at a time.

Find It at Amazon for $84 and also at these other retailers:

7. Nintendo Labo Variety Kit

Created around the concept of "Make, Play, Discover," the Nintendo Labo kits let kids build and customize pre-cut cardboard sheets into items they can then code with the included software for interactive, experimental play. The variety kit comes with cars, a house, a piano, a motorbike, and a fishing rod—so even if your intended recipient doesn't like getting their feet muddy, they can still tell outlandish fish stories with the best of them.

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

8. Fishing Boat Model Kit

Speaking of fishing, encourage teens to make model boats the new model cars. This wooden cut-out craft kit from HouhaDesigns would pair nicely with a copy of Moby-Dick. (Just don't let any play-acting destroy the sweet rowboat!)

Find It at Etsy for $15

9. Brio Builder Activity Playset

Let toddlers and preschoolers put their penchant for hitting things to good use by working on their fine-motor skills in the process. Kids can hammer away on these durable nuts, bolts, and wheels as well as practice using a wrench. They'll be ready to help you put together your IKEA purchases in no time!

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

10. DIY Fermentation Kit

Kids love helping out in the kitchen, but if they're hanging around too much while you're home-brewing, let them try fermenting something that they can actually sample—like pickles. This kit comes with plenty of recipes for when they're ready to branch out into other condiments (like sauerkraut or kimchi), plus it'll teach them patience. Cukes don't pickle overnight!

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $42.

11. MindWare Pattern Play

Need a quiet-time activity that won't leave crayon marks all over the walls? This rainbow-bright wooden puzzle set comes with 40 distinct pattern cards to master again and again. Kids will be so distracted by the vivid colors and pretty patterns that they won't even realize they're getting a solid introduction to math and geometry concepts like symmetry, congruence, and spatial judgment.

Find It at Amazon for $30 and also at these other retailers:

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